27 May 2024
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University of Cyberjaya's Director of Research Receives Funding for Research on Antimalarial Drug Development

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Cyberjaya, 24 May – University of Cyberjaya’s (UoC) Director of Research, Associate Professor Dr. Ashok Kumar Balaraman recently secured a research grant of RM190,000 from the Department and Technology-Science and Engineering Research Board (DST-SERB), India for his research titled “Target-Based Screening and Development of Hydroxyethylamine Derivatives as Novel Antimalarials”.

This research is an international collaborative effort between UoC and universities across South Asia, comprising Assoc. Prof. Dr. Brijesh Rathi and Dr. Priyamvada Singh from Hansraj College-University of Delhi, India and Dr. Anuchit Phanumartwiwath from Chulalongkorn University College of Public Health Sciences, Thailand.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 249 million people are affected from malaria in 2021 across 85 countries and territories. Cases of malaria caused by Plasmodium knowlesi are increasing, particularly in areas with high forest coverage like Sabah, Sarawak, and some states in Peninsular Malaysia such as Kelantan, Perak, and Pahang​.

Malaria is spread by the bite of infective female Anopheles mosquitoes. Once the parasites (called sporozoites) enter the human body, they travel through the bloodstream to the liver. The disease can cause fever, chills and flu-like illness. If it is not treated, it can cause severe complications and even death.

Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are predominantly the first line of treatment in most countries. However, the rise of resistance to artemisinin necessitates the development of new antimalarial drugs with minimal or no toxicity to support malaria eradication efforts.

Dr. Ashok and his international collaborators are employing cutting-edge research techniques to discover and develop novel antimalarial compounds, aiming to create a groundbreaking drug that effectively combats malaria with minimal toxicity.

Dr. Ashok said: “Addressing the critical global health challenge of malaria is essential, particularly as emerging resistance jeopardises front-line treatments. By integrating resources, expertise, and knowledge from diverse geographical and academic backgrounds, this project exemplifies the strength of collaborative research in advancing scientific innovation and discovery.”

Dr. Ashok, a registered pharmacist, and former Australian Endeavour Research Awardee has published over 50 articles in Scopus indexed, peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to the various research team through his extensive medicinal chemistry and pharmacological skills. His expertise includes in vitro and in vivo animal models, phytochemistry and synthetic & natural drug development, with a strong background of chromatography separation and spectral interpretation to elucidate the lead chemical structures.

Professor Datin Dr. Rosnani Hashim, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, said: “We are immensely proud of this collaborative effort, which underscores the transformative potential of international partnerships in advancing scientific discovery. Through our collective expertise and dedication, we are forging new approaches in the fight against malaria, offering hope for a healthier future for communities worldwide.”

University of Cyberjaya is committed to fostering international partnerships that promotes knowledge exchange and scientific progress. As the university embarks on this transformative journey, it reaffirms its commitment to advancing the fight against malaria and enhancing global health outcomes.

This contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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